What we’re tracking on 17 September 2020
It’s Thursday, friends, and while we’re looking forward to the weekend, we’re also a bit daunted by the mountain of work we need to finish before we slide into Friday. It’s a special weekend for us: We celebrate six years of Enterprise next week and are busily banging away in the kitchen on “what’s next” for your morning read. More on that front next week.
Also next week: EFG Hermes is kicking off its second virtual investor conference on Monday, 21 September. The eight-day conference will wrap next Thursday, 1 October. You can visit the conference website here.
Our prayers for faster internet (and the ability to have a voice call without resorting to VoIP because the line keeps breaking up) may be answered today: The country’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) will submit bids today for 60 MHz of new cellular frequency being offered by the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), Youm7 reports. Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat and We can bid for more than one allocation at once. The NTRA hasn’t confirmed which frequencies will be up for auction or how much they will cost, but sources said earlier this week that it will sell a 40-MHz package for USD 600 mn and two 20-MHz packages at a cost of USD 300 mn each. The hope: That more spectrum for the MNOs will allow them to deliver faster data speeds and better voice calls.
You can update your iPhone and iPad to iOS / iPadOS 14 today. We’ve been running iPadOS 14 betas for more than a month now and love it — and we’re really looking forward to having new features on our phones including widgets and better app organization options. Check out Joanna Stern’s Your iPhone will look completely different now, if you want in the WSJ or head over to MacStories for a rundown on what’s new in the OSes powering your Apple phone, tablet, watch and TV. Missing: macOS Big Sur, which isn’t out of beta yet.
How do I get it? Go to the settings icon on your iPhone or iPad and then head to General > Software Update. Make sure your device is hooked up to wifi, then tap Download & Install.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR- If you, like the resident 13-year-old, are looking forward to the launch of Sony’s PlayStation 5, you may want to set a reminder to check where in the world you can pick up a console on 12 November, when the device will be available from “select retailers.” Pre-orders have begun, and the process is apparently a bit messy. The Verge has a rundown of the biggest announcements and trailers from Sony’s event yesterday.
WEEKEND MUST READ- If you, like us, are in a pensive kind of fall mood, we recommend How to deal with longing for a distant home in the New York Times, which asks, “Where is home, really?” Covid-19 has made family, friends and favourite activities seem an ocean away, even when they’re just across town. So what is homesickness? Can you be homesick for your “former” life? Is it friends (with whom you may never have been as close as you thought)? A place? A moment in time? We love the Welsh definition of “‘hiraeth’… yearning, for a home that you cannot return to, no longer exists, or maybe never was.”
MARKETS WATCH- Asian markets are down in early trading this morning and futures suggest at dispatch time that Wall Street and European markets will follow suit later today.
The Health Ministry reported 160 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 163 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 101,500 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 17 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 5,696. We now have a total of 86,549 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.
You can now enter Egypt with a PCR test taken 96 hours before arrival if you’re arriving from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Thailand, North and South America as well as from London Heathrow, Paris, and Frankfurt airports, the Civil Aviation Ministry said yesterday. The change from 72 hours came as many travelers complained that wait times for test results made it challenging — or even impossible — for them to board flights.
International tourism dropped by around 65% y-o-y in 1H2020, according to figures from the UN’s World Tourism Organization. There were around 440 mn fewer international arrivals during the six-month period compared to last year, causing losses of USD 460 bn. Asia and the Pacific was the hardest hit with a 72% drop in tourism for the period, while Africa and the Middle East suffered a 57% decline.
A six-month export ban on medical supplies has ended and will not be extended past the mid-September cut-off now that there is a surplus in local production, according to a Trade & Industry Ministry statement. The local market appears to be flooded with these supplies — masks in particular — as supply has outpaced demand, leading to a slump in utilization rates and production. The ministry imposed the ban in March amid reported shortages in the local market.
VACCINE WATCH- That illness that briefly derailed testing of AstraZeneca’s covid vaccine? It may not have been due to the shot, Reuters reports.
Theranos-like questions are being asked of iAbra, a small UK-based company that claims to have developed a 20-second coronavirus test. The Financial Times has an excellent dive into the test and TT Electronics, which saw its share price soar 40% on the back of test announcements despite the device not having a virologist on board — or regulatory approval.
No Fed rate hikes for another three years: The Federal Reserve has indicated that interest rates will remain at zero until at least the end of 2023, suggesting that it would not look to tighten policy until inflation had remained above 2% “for some time,” Chairman Jerome Powell announced following the two-day Fed meeting. The story is leading the business press this morning: FT | Bloomberg | WSJ | AP.
Snowflake sets record for largest-ever software IPO: Cloud data platform Snowflake’s shares rocketed more than 111% on its trading debut yesterday, setting a new record as the largest-ever software IPO, CNBC reports. Having priced its shares at USD 120 ahead of trading, the company closed the session at USD 253.93, raising its valuation to USD 70.4 bn — more than 5x it’s USD 12.4 bn valuation in February. Snowflake is just one of many companies rushing to go public this year, looking to capitalize on the post-stimulus investor frenzy for tech stocks. Data software firm Sumo Logic — which yesterday priced at USD 22 / share — will make its trading debut today, while video game software company Unity — which raised its price range yesterday to USD 44-48/share from USD 34-42 — goes public on Friday.
BY THE NUMBERS:
- Retail spending in the US was up 0.6% in August (pdf), its fourth consecutive monthly rise, but at a slower pace.
- China’s retail sales inched up 0.5% last month for the first time since the beginning of the year, signaling that consumer spending is finally catching up with other parts of the economy.
- Asia’s developing economies will fall into contraction territory for the first time in six decades this year, shrinking 0.7% in 2020 before rebounding in 2021 to grow at a 6.8% clip, which would keep them below pre-covid forecasts, according to an Asian Development Bank report.
The US is requiring Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera’s digital news network AJ+ to “register as a foreign agent,” after the Department of Justice said it “engages in political activity,” according to the New York Times. According to the DoJ, Doha’s government finances AJ+ and chooses its board members. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE have been demanding since mid-2017 that Qatar shut down Al Jazeera as a condition of ending the quartet’s boycott of Doha.
Also worth knowing this morning:
- UAE-Israel rapprochement: The UAE’s DP World and Israel’s DoverTower have signed partnership agreements that could set up a shipping trade link between the two countries and cooperate in developing Israeli ports, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reports.
- Japan has a new PM: Yoshihide Suga has been confirmed as Japan’s new prime minister and has appointed a “continuity cabinet” that retains nearly half his predecessor’s ministers, Reuters reports.
- Boeing accused of negligence: A US House panel has accused Boeing of a series of errors and the Federal Aviation Administration of negligence which resulted in two Boeing 737 Max crashes, Reuters reports.